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Meeting Mickey Rooney

Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney passed away Sunday, April 6 – he was 93 years old. I had the good fortune to meet this last remaining member of Hollywood’s Golden Age back in 2003.

What was he like? Ornery. He refused autographs unless he was paid for them…people came to him asking if he would sign their programs but he refused unless they paid a few bucks for a photo. He didn’t want to speak with anyone but I was able to wrangle a quick interview with him, thanks to his wife Jan, who was very cordial. He knew he was out-voted and he grudgingly sat down with me so I could ask him questions.

I said that I enjoyed every film that I saw him in (which I honestly did), then he started naming off some of his films until he mentioned one that I didn’t see…then he remarked, “Well, see, you DIDN’T see ALL of them!” With that remark, his stepson/manager yelled at him off-camera to behave himself.

Throughout the last years of his life he was – from accounts – a very difficult person to get along with. But ya know, I didn’t care. I was EXTREMELY lucky to meet this man who began his career in the silent era when he was just a baby (his parents were vaudevillians) and he appeared in 338 films with all the greats from Hollywood’s Golden Age: Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland, James Cagney, Elizabeth Taylor, Lionel Barrymore and countless others.

Ornery? I didn’t care…I met a true legend – the last of his breed – and I am pretty damn glad I did.

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